Club Cobra North Hollywood gay Latino bar to re-open this week

Club Cobra Gay Latino Bar

This artist rendering of Club Cobra shows how owner Marty Sokol wants the bar to look. Photo: Club Cobra.

Club Cobra, the North Hollywood gay Latino nightclub, will re-open Friday in its same location, almost 15 months after it was forced to shutter its doors due to the pandemic.

“At some point, we knew we would survive this and come back. We didn’t think it would be 15 months,” Club Cobra owner Marty Sokol said in a recent interview.

“What was the point of saying anything? The city was closed,” he said.

In May of 2020, Club Cobra had posted on their Instagram page that it would not re-open. However, shortly after the posting, Sokol said the community outpouring about the loss of another gay Latino safe space motivated him to do something.

Sokol negotiated a deal with his landlords to keep the Club Cobra lease and not lose the space that opened in 2006.

“We are lucky to stay in the same home with the same team of bartenders, DJ, and go-go dancers,” Sokol said.

When the club opens its doors Friday and Saturday, from 9 p.m. to  2 a.m., patrons will notice a “substantial” renovation that “was always overdue.”

“It’s fantastic to have all new walls, floors, furniture, floors, lights, and sound system,” Sokol said. “It’s the perfect amount of a face lift.”

The club will host Transfix, a transgender night, every Thursday starting June 24.

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“Gay nightlife is integral part of to the gay community, but it’s often overlooked,” Sokol said. “These spaces are historic. Gay spaces have been an important part of the gay community.

“People think it’s triviality,” Sokol said. “It’s not just a party.  It’s about community.”

Chico moving to El Cid

Sokol also owns another gay Latino bar, Chico, which opened in Montebello in 1999, but it will move to El Cid in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard starting June 23, and every Wednesday thereafter, and be renamed Chico Hollywood. 

“Chico operated as a nightclub. In order for Chico to survive as a nightclub, it needs more space,” Sokol said. “It’s always been a dream to move Chico into Hollywood. It can spread its wings at El Cid.”

Sokol also is spreading his wings and growing the Club Cobra brand.

Last June, Sokol started planning how to keep Club Cobra open. By Labor Day, he started calling people in the Los Angeles nightlife scene.

“Our backs were against the wall. We were forced into collapsing or building, and we built,” Sokol said. “Nothing like a pandemic to bring it to the forefront.

“We joined together and made the critical connections for Club Cobra to be saved and for Chico to expand and become stronger,” Sokolo said.

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More events at other venues

He’s business partners with Mitch Edelson and Steve Edelson, who own several venues in the Los Angeles area, including El Cid, Catch One, Los Globos, and Don Quixote’s in Boyle Heights.

That partnership opened the door for Chico to move to El Cid.

Sokol also has other nights secured at El Cid under Club Cobra Live Presents, including two legends on the gay nightlife scene.

Starting June 20, Sundays will feature brunch with Jackie Beat, Clownz ‘N’ Carbs, followed by Mario Diaz’s famous Hot Dog beer bust and T-dance.

Starting July 10, Transfix Hollywood will be the second Saturday of the month.

Sokol, under the name Club Cobra Live, also will work with promoters at the three other locations.

At the historic Catch One, Brandon Anthony will collaborate on a gay disco night, while at Los Globos, Anthony Waite will raise the curtain on Big Gay Party.

Club Papi will help bring parties and live performances to Don Quixote’s.

Details on the three events will be announced in the coming weeks, Sokolo said.

“In order for this to work, everyone had to share the vision,” Sokol said. “That’s not easy to do. It was a long and complicated arrangement. It took a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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